Panda Express Orange Chicken
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Panda Express Orange Chicken combines crispy fried chicken pieces with a flavorful citrus sauce. Make this easy orange chicken recipe today!
Hot and crispy, with a sweet and tangy sauce, Panda Express® has nailed the perfect way to make crispy orange chicken.
It’s no wonder why it’s their most popular menu item!
Now, you can recreate this entrée in your kitchen right down to that signature irresistible sauce.
Panda Express Orange Chicken Recipe
Enjoy all of the delicious flavors of takeout at a fraction of the cost! This easy orange chicken Panda Express copycat recipe makes enough to feed the whole family.
Pair this scrumptious entrée with pork fried rice and crispy spring rolls for a full spread that can’t be beat.
Looking for more copycat recipes of your takeout favorites? Here’s a classic fried rice that is ready in just 30 minutes.
Try our homemade version of the Panda Express broccoli beef recipe or my delicious barbacoa, just like the kind from Chipotle!
We also have an amazing kung pao chicken that is ready in less than an hour!
Orange Chicken Panda Express Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Choose the right oil. Vegetable oil, shortening, and peanut oil are all great options for frying.
When making this crispy orange chicken, we typically use liquid vegetable shortening.
- Adjust the spice level. The spice in this dish comes from chili pepper paste and ginger.
As written, the orange chicken sauce is mildly spicy like the restaurant version, but you can adjust the amounts to make this dish spicier if you’d like.
- Watch the oil temperature. It needs to stay consistent, between 350°F and 375°F. Too low, and the battered meat will absorb too much oil and take longer to cook.
If the oil is too hot, the batter will burn before the center has a chance to cook through.
- Or use a deep fryer! If you happen to have one, now’s the time to use it.
You can set the exact oil temperature you need, and the appliance will keep it consistent throughout frying.
Kitchen Tools You Will Need
- Stock pot or Dutch oven for frying
- Medium saucepan – Heats evenly and is easy to clean too.
- Candy thermometer – Makes it easy to see when your oil is at the correct temperature.
- Shallow Bowls or plates, for dredging
Panda Express Orange Chicken Recipe FAQ
All of the flavor in the Asian chicken dish comes from the Panda Express signature orange chicken sauce, which features orange peel, soy sauce, vinegar, and red chili peppers. This gives the dish a citrusy sweet and tangy flavor with just a hint of heat.
For the best flavor, we recommend serving this orange chicken Panda Express copycat dish immediately after frying.
Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days and reheated prior to serving.
Reheating Orange Chicken Leftovers
For perfectly crispy results, nothing beats the air fryer! Place leftover Panda Express orange chicken in the basket and cook for 3 to 4 minutes at 400°F.
Warm any additional sauce in the microwave on medium power.
Reheating in the Oven
Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil.
Bake at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the chicken is warmed through and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
You could also reheat crispy orange chicken leftovers in the microwave, but the chicken pieces will be soft instead of firm and crispy.
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Other Restaurant Copycat Recipes
Panda Express Orange Chicken
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- vegetable oil, or other neutral flavored oil, for frying
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon red chili pepper paste
- 1 teaspoon garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced, for garnish (optional)
- Heat at least 4 to 5 inches of vegetable or other neutral flavored frying oil in a heavy stockpot or Dutch oven until it reaches 375°F.
- Meanwhile, prepare the chicken pieces. In a shallow bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, paprika, black pepper, garlic salt, and onion powder. In a second bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
- Dip the chicken pieces, a few at a time, first into the milk mixture and then into the flour mixture to coat evenly.
- When the oil heats to 375°F, cook the chicken by carefully dropping several battered pieces at a time into the hot oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the batter is light golden brown. Lift the chicken from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on a paper bag or paper towels to soak up the excess oil.
- For the sauce: In a saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil over medium heat. Add the chili pepper paste, garlic paste, and ginger paste and sauté for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the remaining sauce ingredients: soy sauce, orange zest rice vinegar, and sugar. Whisk the cornstarch into the orange juice and add that too the saucepan as well. Stir and simmer sauce for a few minutes until it has thickened.
- Toss the cooked chicken with the finished sauce to coat completely, garnish with green onion slices (if desired) and serve immediately.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 days, but chicken is crisp and best immediately after frying.
- Maintain a steady temperature between 350° and 375°F for the cooking oil. If the temperature falls too low, the chicken will absorb too much oil and take longer to cook. Oil that is too hot will burn the batter on the chicken quickly. If using the stovetop (versus a deep fryer), you will likely need to monitor and adjust the frying oil throughout the cooking time.
- Vegetable oil, shortening, and peanut oil are all options for fry oil. We typically use liquid vegetable shortening.
- The chili pepper paste and ginger add the spice in this dish and can be adjusted for spicier flavor. As written, the recipe is mildly spicy, like Panda Express.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Post originally published April 18, 2022, updated and republished March 2023
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I tried making this to copy the Panda Express orange chicken that my wife loves, and it turned out really well. We were both surprised at how close it compares, while having that home-cooked flavor that makes it all the better!
Where do you find the chili, orange and garlic paste??